Monday, May 30, 2011

Orchids by the Highway Side

I have been largely absent from the blogosphere for the last week or so because I was busy with graduation and moving out of my college dormitory. Having graduated from college I guess my blogger pseudonym is no longer entirely appropriate, but since I will return to the same university as  a Ph.D. student in the fall I figure that I can get away with keeping the name. For now I am at my parents' house in Michigan and since there is plenty of gardening to be done I should have plenty of material to write about in the coming days and weeks. For today, however, I just wanted to post about a lovely surprise we encountered at a highway rest stop in central Pennsylvania during the road trip home. At the edge of the woodland bordering the parking lot were several beautiful stands of pink lady slipper (Cypripedium acaule), a very pretty native orchid which I had never seen in the wild before and only once in a botanic garden.

A particularly nice specimen of pink lady slipper (Cypripedium acaule)

Pink lady slippers scattered about the woodland edge

Close-up of one of the rather complex flowers

Apparently Cypripedium acaule is extremely difficult to cultivate under garden conditions because it needs very acidic soil and is also very sensitive to disturbances. All the better then to have had the luck to see this unusual flower in the wild.


  1. Congratulations on your recent graduation! Now is the time for you to take a rest and enjoy nature. The slipper orchid look so tender and delicate. You are indeed very lucky to enjoy its real beauty.

  2. I don't think I've ever seen these. What a wonderful surprise!

  3. Autumn Belle - Thank you very much!

    HolleyGarden - According to what I found on Wikipedia and elsewhere, this species is indeed quite rare in the Mid Atlantic states and further south but relatively common further north, especially in the eastern provinces of Canada.

  4. I've seen the showy lady slipper - state flower of Minnesota - in the wild there, and it was breathtaking.
    Congratulations on your graduation and on continuing as a PhD student.


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